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MCAT

Unit 4: Lesson 1

Foundations of behavior passages

Health after trauma- correlates of PTSD

Problem

A traumatic event is an experience that threatens a person’s sense of safety or stability, and often results in severe emotional, psychological, and physical distress. After the event occurs, individuals may continue to experience residual harm while trying to cope with their memories, and can develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result. PTSD is characterized by repeated reliving of the event, in nightmares, flashbacks or intrusive thoughts. When reliving the trauma, the person may experience emotional or physiological symptoms of stress, like intense fear, increased heart rate, or shortness of breath. They also experience symptoms of hyperarousal like irritability, heightened startle response, difficulty concentrating, and insomnia. To manage their fears, they often avoid situations that remind them of their experience and attempt to suppress memories or thoughts about the trauma. This can lead to persistent negative thinking, feelings of guilt, and depressed mood.
The experience of PTSD can become severe and chronic, leading to other physical and psychological health problems. To gather more information about correlates of PTSD the electronic health records of 200 patients with PTSD were examined, with a focus on the relationships between PTSD, depression, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. The results of their analysis are outlined in Table 1, which includes correlations among PTSD and other health problems.
Table 1
DepressionObesityHeart DiseaseDiabetes
PTSDpoint, 72*point, 30*point, 33*point, 20
*Statistically significant at p<.05
Some researchers believe that the part of the brain associated with emotion is responsible for the development of PTSD. What part of the brain is associated with how an individual manages emotions like fear?
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